Avalanche make playoffs with 3-2 win over San Jose
- Associated Press
- March 29, 2014 - 5:35 PM
DENVER — Semyon Varlamov had a season-high 47 saves and the Colorado Avalanche clinched their first playoff berth in four years with a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
Center John Mitchell had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who moved past Chicago into second place in the Central Division with 100 points in what might have been a costly victory.
Center Matt Duchene suffered a left knee injury on the opening shift Saturday when he collided with teammate Jamie McGinn near the Sharks blue line. He fell to the ice and then gingerly skated to the bench.
Mitchell moved up to center Colorado's top line, and came through with a big power-play goal to give Colorado a 3-1 lead at 6:32 of the second period.
Paul Stastny and Cody McLeod also scored for Colorado.
Down a player, Varlamov made up for it with an outstanding performance. He stopped 20 shots in the third period, many during the final minutes when the Sharks were trying to get the equalizer.
His 37 wins are the most in the NHL.
Varlamov's strong play beforehand helped Colorado maintain a 2-1 lead. The Sharks outshot the Avalanche 11-3 in the second, many of those coming early when they were trying to tie it.
Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle scored for the Sharks, who are 1-2-2 in their last five games but still hold a slim lead for first place in the Pacific over Anaheim.
Goalie Alex Stalock had 19 saves for San Jose before being pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute.
Boyle cut the lead to 3-2 when he took a pass from James Sheppard and scored off Varlamov's left shoulder 2:03 after Mitchell. It was his 10th goal of the season.
The Sharks got a chance to tie on a 4-on-3 power play after Ryan O'Reilly took his first penalty of the season, a minor for playing with a broken stick.
Stastny's 26th goal 1:33 into the game gave Colorado a 1-0 lead. Pavelski tied it on the power play less than two minutes later with his 38th.
The Sharks had another power-play chance midway through the first but McLeod snuck behind the defense, took a long pass from Nick Holden and beat Stalock to give Colorado a 2-1 lead.
NOTES: Mitchell returned to the lineup after missing four games with a back injury. ... The Sharks reassigned F Freddie Hamilton to Worcester of the AHL on Friday. ... McGinn played after skipping practice Friday. He took a shot off his foot in Thursday's win over Vancouver.
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